Unreasonable guest, advice needed

Hello Fellow Hosts,

We recently had a guest in our apartment that found the oven unclean which then triggered what appears to be a bit of a witch hunt. He made a list of all the imperfections in the apartment. We of course were very apologetic, reacted quickly on the day, cleaned the oven at a time that was convenient for him, and rectified many of the other items he raised that could be sorted on the day (replaced chiped crockery, cleaned the range which was due, replaced stained chopping boards etc). He conceded that things were much better but was very critical on the message thread saying that we should be inspecting things more often to ensure that these things don’t happen. We explained that we do inspect it quite regularly but guests aren’t always as respectful as he is etc etc trying to be nice and explain how quickly things get damaged etc. We certainly didn’t get a thanks for jumping to and getting things straightenned out. He said he’d run hotels for 20 years and we should be more serious about our business, it was all our fault for not inspecting things often enough, he was expecting something special and felt he should have stayed at home in the UK where it was clean. We did ask him if there were any other issues regarding cleanliness and he didn’t come back to us on that. For the rest of the stay he was quiet. After he checked out he submitted a claim for money to get about a 50% refund. He’s currently not answering messages.

His expectation of something special is interesting. He paid less than AUD160 a night for his stay and got a beach front apartment, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, in room spa, resort facilities including hot tub, sauna, indoor pool, outdoor pool, gym, tennis courts etc. Next door there is a hotel with inferiour facilities that costs $200 / night for a single king bed room. So value wise we think it’s pretty good, and so have our previous guests.

Where it gets tricky is that we have great feedback generally. Our rating got dragged down to 4.8 due to a rogue guest who somewhat trashed the apartment, broke into our cleaning supplies cupboard, used illegal drugs in the space, and stole our neighbors bike then left us a 3 star review, but apart from that it’s been mostly 5 stars with the odd four star review. This guest has said it was the “Worst place he’s ever stayed in”, which just doesn’t in any way reflect how all our other guests see the place, we get a lot of wonderful comments which is warming. Some of the possible scenario’s I’ve thought may have provoked this are:

  1. He’s extremely sensitive to hygiene and finding the dirty oven has psychologically affected him so that there’s no way he could see anything else as clean
  2. He’s jaded from his 20 years of managing hotels and no doubt getting slammed by guests for petty things so is dealing it back out
  3. He’s simply gunning for a refund

AirBnB have suggested we refund the cleaning fees after reviewing things. I am concerned this will anger him as it’s well short of what he has asked for (AUD130 verse AUD600). He hasn’t reviewed us yet and we’re pretty sure, given how rude and unreasonable this guest has been he’ll blow up about not getting the refund he has asked for and give us a terrible review. We raised this concenr with AirBnB are saying the two matters are separate (which is an extremely poor read of human psychology, but that’s their view). We’re actually pretty sure the guy is going to slam us in the review anyway so it really feels like a lose lose situation. We see our options as:

  1. Pay what he’s asked now and hope he changes heart for the review
  2. Pay a bit more and hope he changes heart for the review
  3. Pay what AirBnB suggest and hope he doesn’t hold that against us for the review
  4. Wait until the review period has expired so our response to the refund request doesn’t affect the review either way
  5. Other??

We’re not sure what to do and would like some advise from the AirBnB community. Thanks in advance!

Rich and Hayley

No. You pay, he still leaves bad review.

See above

See above

You already reacted to his complaints. I might refund the cleaning fee. I have to agree with the guest that ovens should always be cleaned, cutting boards should never be stained, dishes should not be chipped, regardless of price point.

Do not be held hostage by review threats.


How long was his stay?

Refund the cleaning fee.

What ever you do, he isn’t going to change his mind and give you a better review.

See above.


I also suggest you refund the cleaning fee and send him nice message that hope he won’t put in the reviews. You need to deal with this smart way not to hurt yourself. That’s what we always do if we have complains from the guests, most time we offer them some refund ($50 -$100) depends on the issues. Then send them a nice message. " Thank you so much for your feedback. We are really sorry for that. We would like to offer you $*** for the inconvenience. We will definitely fix the issue (or talk to our cleaning company about that) to make sure it won’t happen again. We really do appreciate your private feedback. "
You can be mad as hell at home with your husband or whatever, but be professional and extremely nice to the guests who complains. Just remember a bad review can hurt your business a lot and some $$ goes long ways.


I agree with K9. There is nothing you can do to placate this…person. He will leave you a bad review whatever you do. Personally, I wouldn’t refund a damn thing to such an obnoxious self-entitled person. But if you feel you have to, just refund the cleaning fee and nothing else. PLEASE leave an honest review of him too. Nobody wants to host such a shit, so do your bit for the community - please.


Does that actually work for you? Personally, I’ve found that demanding guests back down pretty quickly when you snap back at them and say sorry you are not comfortable, you’re welcome to leave and someone will be along shortly to help you check out. (Obviously genuine issues would be addressed. A stained chopping board does not come under that heading).


I vote he’s gunning for a refund. If the place was so bad, he should have left, or immediately asked for a refund. My opinion is that anyone that waits until after they leave to ask for a refund was planning it all along, or they would have left earlier.


I wouldn’t refund a thing. He had an issue, you immediately rectified it, end of story.


It works for me every time.
I had one incident that was my outdoor BBQ grill didn’t clean, had previous guests leftover on the bottom, so when the guests started the grill with their own meat and fish, the fire went to strong and burnt half of their food. They text me and complained about it, I said to them to refund them $50 for the mess and alone with the nice message. They were very happy, impressed and give me a 5 star review. There’s other incidents that I dealt with it the same way. Works very well. You make $$ back at no time, and $$ goes long ways.


Ah yes, that seems fair enough. If it is a fair complaint then guests should be recompensed in some way. But the OP is talking about petty things and an overly demanding guest. Personally, I don’t give way in these situations. 9/10 they’re just testing you to see what they can get away with and/or checking how responsive you are. Or they’re just obnoxious bleeps. They get short shrift with me. If you bend over for them they will only ask you to go further… until you end up having to dislodge something from your arse. And still get a crap review for your trouble.


I agree with others that you should definitely not issue a refund. This guest should have read what Airbnb expects from a guest in the event they are not happy. He should have let Airbnb know if he wasn’t happy. He might well leave you a bad review but so what? You’re in business - every business gets bad reviews at some time.

However, the guest has given you a learning experience, that’s for sure. You might want to look into your systems and the way you organise the work as there’s really no excuse for an uncleaned oven, chipped crockery, uncleaned range, stained chopping boards and whatever the ‘etc’. you mentioned was.

Telling the guest that other guests aren’t as respectful is never going to be a good excuse as it’s your responsibility to make sure that everything is just right before every guest arrives.

So, ignore this bloke and move on. He’s not worth giving any of your brain-space to.


I agree 100% with @jaquo. No refund. Forget the review. Move on.

Lesson learned is that there is never any excuse for chipped crockery, dirty ovens or stoves, and stained chopping boards. All that should have been rectified when you cleaned after the previous guest. Every time.


I had a similar situation not long ago, you can read about it here: I seem to be having a bad run!

Airbnb told me that she might be due a small refund on the cleaning fee but they considered the cleaning issues minor and the cleaner also came around immediately to rectify it.

She left an absolutely shocking review, (below) but was silly enough to have a go at Air on their own website and mention the offer of a payment (that I didn’t know about) so it was removed. That’s the best you can hope for that he breaks review guidelines so you can get it pulled. In relation to the refund, let Airbnb make a decision on that.


Thanks K9KarmaCasa, that all makes sense.

Do you get bad reviews frequently? Maybe you need to fix the problems beforehand so you aren’t spending good money paying people bribes to leave you good reviews :slight_smile: . This also encourages some guests to think that if they can find something to complain about, even if it is not significant, that they can get a partial refund and you can bet they pass this tip onto each other in some dodgy backpackers’ bar.

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I have a Hotel Inspector. A friend who ran hotels for 20 years. i give her a bottle of wine to give me an honest review every 6 months. I used to get 3.5s now I get a solid 4.5. You know those tassels at the end of the hall runner? Mine are now straightened out thanks to her. I would do as you have done and take into account what they say and fix things but offer no refund apart from the cleaning fee (so it looks like you have). Your place sounds great, please put up a link so we can all ooh and aah or tut tut depending on our individual hotel inspectorishish preferences.


Your friend should start a business! It’s only by staying in mine that I have been aware of some issues.

Refund the cleaning fee, as AirBnb suggested. At this point, it doesn’t matter what you do because he will leave you a bad review. Just be prepared to write a response. Something like “unfortunately, cleaning staff forgot to check the oven. Cleaning fee was refunded.”

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I wouldn’t give him.any refund only because he is an a… hole.
One thing to point out to you and have things cleaned, another to lecture you and then requesting refund on something that was quickly fixed. And don’t worry about reviews so much especially if you have so many 5*. I feel he will leave you bad review no matter what.
I wouldn’t even refund 100% of cleaning. May be partial for the oven.
With that said I think cleanliness shouldn’t be depending on price. I have very budget accomodation but it doesn’t mean I keep it with low cleanliness level.
Some guests are just like that , you can have 100s who leave you 5* reviews saying how clean everything is and then you get one who complains about couple non removable spots on matress, makes picture of an ant,finds one pot with broken handle and demands full redund

I once had a guest who knocked on my door late in the evening to show me a photo of a ‘palmetto bug’ (cockroach!) that she’d seen in the apartment. I said ‘oh how cute. A palmetto. I haven’t seen one of those in years. Thanks so much for showing it to me - they are so rare. and so cute’ … as though it was a furry kitten or something.

Five star review from her :slight_smile: